Growth Planning: Determine Your Target Audience

My last post discussed the primary online advertising networks, and the reach and benefits associated with each channel. In this post we’ll explore the process of identifying your target audience. This is an important first step towards deciding where to put your investment.


Establish Your Target Audience

In making this determination, ask yourself this simple question: Which user segments are most likely to do what I want them to do once they reach my site? Your conversion goals could be anything — sales, leads, e-book downloads, watching a video, etc. Whatever the goal, who is the most likely to be interested?


Here are some examples of criteria you might use to determine this:


1.) Income level — if you offer a premium product or service

2.) Age and Gender — products or services particularly relevant to certain age ranges and genders.

3.) Region — users likely to be interested in your business by virtue of their location

4.) Prequalified segments  — users who’ve interacted with your online content

5.) Specific topics - users likely to be interested in your product or service based on the websites they view and search queries


Use Targeting Options To Capture These Segments

Because of the flexibility of targeting options on offer by these various networks, it’s likely there’ll be a solution for reaching your target demographics with a high degree of precision. Let’s take the four examples above and look at how we might use the available targeting options to reach these segments.


1.) Income level — Placement targeting on the Google Display Network. Pick websites and blogs dedicated to high-end products or services similar to yours, or that otherwise suggest a certain level of buying power for the audience. For search targeting, add qualifying keyword modifiers to the keywords you buy. For example, include terms such as “high end”.

2.) Age and Gender — Use Facebook to confine your targeting to users in your target age range and to your target gender.

3.) Regional — Limit targeting on all networks to your target region only. For example, if you sell boating supplies, you can confine your targeting to areas near water.

4.) Pre-qualified segments — These are users who’ve demonstrated interested by viewing your website or your other online profiles. Target these users with Google Remarketing or Facebook Website Custom Audiences.

5.) Specific Topics – Target these users with a combination of placement, keyword and topic targeting on the Google Display Network, with Facebook ads using demographic targeting, and on Search with contextual keyword targeting

Use Data To Determine Key Segments

Presumably, you’re using some sort of web analytics solution to track user behavior on your website (If you’re not, start right now!). Use this data to help determine your target audience. For example, using a tool like Google Analytics (it’s free and awesome) you can quickly gain a wealth of useful information about your users. Here are a few examples:


  • Where your users are coming from — Sources, Channels, Referral reports
  • What your users are interested in — Interests reports
  • Where your users are coming from — Location reports
  • Devices used to reach your site — Technology / Mobile reports


Use Internal Business Knowledge to Understand Key Segments

As great as online data can be for understanding your users, don’t forget to use internal sales and other performance data. Offline performance should inform online strategy and this data can be extremely powerful when combined with insights from tools like Google Analytics.

1.) Use online and offline data to identify your target audience

2.) Make a list of demographic and behavioral criteria

3.) Consider how to reach these segments using the targeting options available across ad networks

4.) Use data to make refinements to targeting